Now the hard work begins for Norwich City

Belief is the buzzword according to Norwich City's former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie ahead of the Canaries' top flight bow.

The ever-popular frontman has bittersweet memories of the club's last brush with English football's elite as part of Nigel Worthington's squad in 2004/05.

He scored against Chelsea, Everton and both Manchester clubs but was also an integral part of the last day capitulation at Fulham.

And the Londoner insists Paul Lambert's men must learn the lessons of recent history to punch their weight against the country's best.

'It was hard work getting up in the first place, but the even harder work starts now,' he said. 'I always think it is really important to get a good start – the reason being for the boys' confidence, for them to believe. When you step up from outside the Premier League you ask yourself, 'Am I good enough to play at this level?' For me, it took me probably three or four games to say, 'OK, I am playing in the Premier League now and I deserve to be here.'

'Mentally, I was always pretty strong to the point when I did switch on I had that mentality of being fearless. I found I just wanted to go out there and show I wasn't scared anymore – to show people what I could do rather than worry about who we were playing.

'I remember once I got that first Premier League goal against Everton, it was really from that point I kicked on. That is what they need – belief, to believe in each other and not to be scared. They need to enjoy it because it is a lovely experience being in there.'

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McKenzie's rise was every bit as meteoric as the majority of Lambert's current squad after Worthington plucked the striker from then third tier Peterborough.

'People can say to me you only scored seven or eight goals in the Premier League, but two years before I was at Peterborough in League One,' he said. 'There were a few games that stood out for me that season – the Middlesbrough game and obviously the Manchester United game towards the end of the season.

'That was a game which I felt gave me the status and told me it wasn't a fluke I was playing in the Premier League.

'Everyone knows what happened at Fulham but we had such a good second half to the season to even take it to that last game. There was just too much pressure that day, it even got to me. I tried too hard, didn't play well and it was probably the first time that season me and Deano (Dean Ashton) didn't click. A few of us just crumbled.'

McKenzie believes City's current frontline could surprise a few established clubs.

'He has brought the boy from Millwall (Steve Morison) and some might say he isn't proven,' said McKenzie. 'At the same time I know where I came from and I would never take anything away from a player coming up from a lower league.

'A lot of people would have thought I couldn't score goals in the Premier League, but I did and you have seen it with the likes of DJ Campbell.

'Someone like (Simeon) Jackson I think has the right attributes to go and kick on again and there is no reason why he can't score in the Premier League and (Grant) Holt will always nick a goal.'

McKenzie is currently one of hundreds of footballers without an employer after being released by Northampton following the Cobblers' successful League Two relegation fight.

'I scored 10 goals in 25 or so appearances but the new manager came in and he has his own ideas,' he said. 'I'm looking for a new club and it's a bit of a lonely road.

'I'm 34 next birthday and considering I have had a couple of bad injuries, I can't complain. I'd like to think I could still have a year or two – especially at this level. I still feel on my goalscoring record alone I have enough pedigree to stay in the league.

'I haven't spoken to any club at this precise moment in time.

'Maybe one more year and I'd be able to turn out for Norwich in the Masters. I have a real soft spot for the club. The best club I was at.

'I miss playing at Carrow Road and I know when that place is rocking there isn't too many better.'

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